is a Thesis Statement?
reasons academic essays are a genre dependent on thesis statements.
statements are "zoo creatures"—they only exist in the cages of
academia. Writing in the wild will likely have a main idea--a
probably not an explicit thesis statement. Thesis statements make a
writer's intention explicit to the reader, which matters in academia
because the reader is often also the grader.
many styles of academic writing, and each type of academic
its own style of thesis statement.
expectations are also relevant when it comes to theses.
Since the professor is the primary audience for thesis statements, and
since professors are people with professional expertise and personal
preferences, they each have their own ideas about how thesis statements
should be written in their respective classes.
best thesis statements are often revised many, many times, and
are usually written after the
body of the essay is complete,
when the writer has already discovered and organized the content that
the essay. This is true of the introduction and the conclusion as well,
are related to thesis statements in that the introduction establishes a
for the thesis and the conclusion illustrates how the thesis is,
indeed, true according to your essay.
successful thesis statement:
an answer to the question/problem posed in the prompt.
be discussable or arguable. If a room full of reasonable people would
agree with you, it’s not a thesis statement and probably not worth
way to think about a thesis is that it indicates the primary TENSION in
the essay. The tension is often related to the why and how the ideas in
the thesis matter.
never a question; it is an answer to the prompt/problem you begin with.
You might use questions in brainstorming, but your thesis is always a
true fact or common observation. “Different people have different ideas
marriage” is an observation with no tension or urgency. Nothing about
arguable either. “Fast food advertising is sexist” falls into this
well. The question I usually ask of these statements is, “so what?”
it matter?” Those questions lead you to the tension or the arguable
aspects of the topic.
topic. A topic is the subject matter you are writing about. A thesis is
you have to argue about that subject matter. "Happiness" is a topic;
"Americans place too much emphasis on being happy," is the beginning
of a thesis statement.
you do more than summarize in the body of the text, but also puts the
essence of your essay into a nutshell. A thesis requires
which may come in a variety of forms, such as analysis, examples,
illustrations, etc. If you find yourself simply summarizing content in
essay, your thesis is more like a table of contents than an argument.
the steering wheel to your essay's car.
active rather than passive--something is happening in the thesis.
a direction or a road map to the reader. It
establishes a contract between you and your readers. Readers can expect
you'll support this thesis convincingly and interestingly, and that
veer too far off the path you’ve set for yourself.
too broad nor too narrow for the scope of the assignment. (Yes, a
statement only exists in the context of an academic assignment and thus
respond appropriately to the prompt or assignment.)
concrete and specific rather than general and abstract. (See the
below for more about this.)
complete sentence and may require multiple clauses and sophisticated
punctuation. This is where revision can be crucial, as short sentences
ideas can be combined into one complex idea.
the success of your own thesis statement by asking these
questions of it.
thesis respond appropriately and interestingly to the
point I’m making one that would generate discussion or argument among
and interested people.
I give an answer to the “so what" question?
thesis too vague? Too general? Too broad?
thesis indicate the direction of my thinking and guide the reader?
thesis skewer through all the ideas in my essay? Imagine your thesis as
skewer shish kabob. Each paragraph is a piece of food going on the
the skewer is a thesis. There needs to be threads of that thesis
sentences throughout the entirety of the essay.
Thesis Statements for a variety of essays
the job of public schools to offer comprehensive and scientifically
education to all teens age 13 and above, as it’s their responsibility
remove morality, judgment and shame from the current
most news sources offer the consumer a corporate bias,
seeking the news to be well informed about world events is a necessary
citizens must engage.
schools in the United
States must teach students how important math is to their career and
success and change the curriculum so that students get more interested
more successful at math.
a growth mindset, setting goals, and managing my time are things I need
to work on in order to achieve college success.
academic writing proficiency, learning from mistakes, and consulting
professors are all parts of developing my growth mindset as I work
toward college success.
Hunger Games is the Capitol's main tool to keep
the districts in
line, as it perpetuates the practice of dehumanization and keeps the
the districts focused on fighting each other rather than their true
abstract thesis statement more concrete and specific.
draft of expository thesis: Super heroes sacrifice
their personal lives.
specific and concrete: Super heroes must
sacrifice, like how Batman in the Dark Knight franchise
must sacrifice a relationship with his love to protect her from the
draft of literary analysis thesis: Wickham isn't as
bad as he seems.
necessary step with an abstract thesis statement is to define the
define I don’t mean you need to go to the dictionary to look up a word,
rather you need to set the parameters of what is and is not part of
the example above, the reader isn't sure what the writer means
by the terms "bad" and "seems." Depending on the content of
the introductory paragraph, the reader might also need clarification as
Wickham is and why he’s worth discussing. Here is a revision of the
thesis statement that narrows the scope and defines the terms.
and Prejudice’s primary
villain, George Wickham, displays mercenary tendencies reprehensible to
socially connected and financially secure families he encounters, but
behaviors are more about self-preservation than profit in his search
this example, "bad" is expanded to mean
"mercenary tendencies," which suggests a capacity to be bought
without going into the specific evidence of how. We also get the
information that his acts only seem
those who are
“socially connected and financially secure.” The last clause clues the
in on a possible reason why Wickham behaves as he does, establishing
foundation for the kinds of examples we might expect to find in support
statements most often are written in the same handful of patterns over
and over again. Here are some templates for expressing
ideas that may or may not find their ways into thesis statements.
are some thesis
varying qualities where I identify what is/isn't working in them. These
are in response to a literary analysis prompt—so they mention
themes in literature, yet their formats are very common throughout
are some examples of expository and persuasive thesis